Pompeo in Turkey as Saudi faces new claims over Khashoggi

Marco Green
October 17, 2018

Some materials at the Saudi consulate have been painted over, Turkey's President Tayyip Erdoğan said on October 16.

Pompeo told journalists before leaving Riyadh on Wednesday that Saudi leaders, including King Salman and his son, the 33-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, "made no exceptions on who they would hold accountable".

But the Saudis have faced intense criticism over the Khashoggi incident, which comes just after USA senators almost succeeded in cutting off support for Riyadh's air campaign against rebels in Yemen, which a United Nations report says has killed thousands of civilians.

Three times this week, President Donald Trump has seemed to preview or echo the Saudi line when it comes to the disappearance and possible murder of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey.

On Tuesday, Pompeo landed in Riyadh to meet with King Salman to discuss Khashoggi's disappearance. The Washington Post columnist was not observed leaving the building, and the USA media have cited anonymous Turkish sources to report that he was murdered and dismembered inside.

Saudi Arabia has strongly denied killing Khashoggi and has denounced such assertions as "lies", saying he left the building shortly after entering.

Graham put the blame directly on the crown prince, who is known by his initials, MbS, and said he planned to share his views with the president and advocate suspending arms sales. "Saudi Arabia, if you're listening, there are a lot of good people you can choose, but MBS has tainted your country and tainted himself".

Over the past two days, Saudi Arabia has allowed Turkish police to search the consulate.

The New York Times confirmed the identities of nine people in the group on October 16, adding that at least four of them were previously part of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's entourage on foreign trips.

"The Saudi government can no longer remain silent, and it is essential that our own government and others push harder for the truth", Ryan added.

The passport copies were provided to The Post on the same day as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visit to Saudi Arabia, where he met with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

"The investigation is looking into many things such as toxic materials and those materials being removed by painting them over", Mr Erdogan said.

Pompeo will fly to Ankara on Wednesday for talks with Turkish officials about the case.

"I emphasised the importance of conducting a thorough, transparent, and timely investigation, and the Saudi leadership pledged to deliver precisely on that", he said.

Interviewed by state-run Anadolu news agency, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu refused to be drawn into commenting on what may have happened inside the consulate. "I think we have to find out what happened first". "We have said before that Saudi Arabia must cooperate with us in every aspect without delay".

Which begs the wider question: is the West's relationship with Saudi Arabia so important that it outweighs the need to condemn and punish what many believe was a state-sponsored murder of a journalist inside a consulate?

On Monday, Mr Trump speculated that "rogue killers" may have been behind the journalist's disappearance.

"The Saudis claimed that the consul's family was inside", Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters after meeting Pompeo.

"The effort behind the scenes is focused on avoiding a diplomatic crisis between the two countries and has succeeded in finding a pathway to deescalate tensions", said Ayham Kamel, the head of the Eurasia Group's Mideast and North Africa division.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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